Bulldogs fall in final seconds to Eufaula

Published 11:16 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pike County head coach Doug Branson summarized the events of the entire evening into a succinct two word response after Tuesday’s battle between the 3A Pike County Bulldogs and the visiting 5A Eufaula Tigers … “Snake bit”.

Pike County, dressing just eight players, stepped onto the court and gave absolute fits for all 32 minutes of the game to a tough opponent but eventually falling in the final seconds, 47-46.

The game took on an all-too-familiar look from this year’s PCHS squad. A low-scoring battle of swapping early baskets had the home standing Bulldogs taking the lead at 8-6 at the end of the first quarter. A Marlon Meadows steal led to a breakaway layin by Ryshawn Hall and the persistent PCHS defense made it stand up.

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The second quarter had Meadows leading the way. He scored 6 of the 12 points he had in the game during this period, and Pike County built a lead that reached a high of 12-6. The outstanding defense of Hall was also a major factor as he prevented at least three breakaway attempts by the Tigers to score baskets.

The Eufaula comeback in the second quarter was keyed by two big three point baskets by Ben Thomas. He would earn high scoring honors for his team with a total of 15 points for the game. The halftime score had the home team up by two at 19-17.

The third quarter was characterized by several fouls on each team as both PCHS and Eufaula would reach the bonus on free throws before the end of the period. The lead for the Bulldogs grew as large as 9 when Hall made a basket after a hard drive to the rim to make the score 31-22.

The Tigers fought back to narrow the score to a four point margin before Hall was fouled attempting a three point shot as time expired in the quarter. He calmly made all three shots and the margin was back to seven at 38-31 at the end of the quarter.

The fourth quarter began in a pattern that Branson has seen before. The Bulldogs simply went cold from the floor and the Tigers were able to take advantage. By the five minute mark a three point basket by Thomas had brought Eufaula all the way back to tie the score at 38. This was the first time that Eufaula had tied the game up since the score was 6-6 in the first quarter.

The teams continued to trade scores as the Tigers’ Vallin Robinson connected on the only three point basket he hit all night to give the visitors a two point lead at 44-42. Two free throws by Meadows tied the game at 44 with 1:11 showing on the clock.

A free throw by Thomas gave the visitors a one point lead that appeared would not hold up. A clutch basket by Hall with 7.5 seconds left on the clock gave the Bulldogs their final lead at 46-45. A wild three point attempt by Thomas went well over the basket, and an unidentified Tiger was able to snare the loose ball and get it into the basket as the buzzer sounded.

Ever gracious in defeat, Branson was philosophical after the game.

“I’m ready to win one of these games,” Branson said. “I told the boys afterward that once we turned the corner, we are going to be hard to stop.”

Hall lead all scorers for both teams with 22 points and added several steals. Meadows was the only other Bulldog in double figures.